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  1. #1
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    Outfitting older bike that's a bit small

    This a double post from the Touring forum. I hope that's legal. I didn't know which one to hit for the best advice so voila:

    I have this '82 Univega Gran Turismo which I like a lot or at least it's all I got. I would like to get myself into doing some longer tours, so I want to get the bike to fit me well enough so that it isn't going to pose any risk of injury due to positioning, etc.

    The problem is that the bike is a 54cm frame, and I'm 5' 10" with a 86.5cm inseam. That would lead me to believe I'd be better off with a 56 or 58. However, my LBS says my reach to the bars looks pretty good and so do my legs and stroke, but the stem could come up another inch, which requires me to buy a new stem, and while I'm at it I'll probably buy some other things like wider bars.

    So do you think the bike has the ability to be a good fit for me if I bought some new parts? I'm not sure what sort of differences the geometry of a taller bike would have versus a smaller bike with a taller/ maybe longer/shorter stem and a seat post with generous setback. Are there any in the way as far as fit goes?

    I also want to change out the 27s for 700cs at some point, too, which will of course lower the bike 4mm? Will there be any other notable effects from that change?

    I like the fact that the bike is a lugged steel frame, and if I could find another decently priced one my size , I would hop for it. I'm asking you guys if you think it could work, because the guy at the LBS told me not to put too much money into the bike, and that the newer tech is far better. Which is likely true, but I'm fine with what works and have a thing for the old style.

    Thanks for your input.

  2. #2
    mechanically sound frankenmike's Avatar
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    I think the bike can be built for you comfortably. The only thing with the smaller 700c wheels is sometimes even long reach calipers won't reach the rim!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by frankenmike View Post
    I think the bike can be built for you comfortably. The only thing with the smaller 700c wheels is sometimes even long reach calipers won't reach the rim!
    I find that hard to believe. Tektro makes brake calipers that reach up to 95mm. 67mm usually being the most you need when converting from 27" to 700c.
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

  4. #4
    Low car diet JiveTurkey's Avatar
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    I think the Gran Turismo used cantilever brakes. In which case, it's about less reach. If the pads can be moved down a little, it'll actually make a stronger brake.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    56 would probably be the right size for you. 58 would probably be on the marginally big side. Most people can be fit reasonably well on more than one size of bike frame. My guess is that a Nitto Technomic stem will give your 54 the extra handlebar height and reach that you want.

    Regarding fitting 700c wheels - find somebody who will lend you a pair to try. In less than 5 minutes you'll know if you are going to have to change the brakes, or scrape a pedal on turns, or if the smaller wheels will make your bike look too goofy for words.

  6. #6
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    You may be able to make the bike fit to your satisfaction but on the other hand it would be very easy to spend too much money making the adjustments when the same money could go a long way toward a bike with the correct frame size.

    Al

  7. #7
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    I'm a little concerned about the goofiness.

    The brakes I have now are some Dia-Compe cantis that have no vertical adjustment, so I was going to put out for some Tektro Oryx brakes whenever I decided to make the switch. I suppose I could still try the 700s on the bike just for appearance purposes before I got those, though. If pedal clearance becomes a problem, new cranks are also on my list, as the one the bike doesn't fit a small enough chainring, so I could shorten them up a tad, but then there I am again with the fit thing.

    The Techtronic stem is the one I've been looking at. Should I keep the same length, if the LBS says my reach is "about spot-on" even if I do raise the stem an inch? With the head tube angle, that'll make things more scrunched, right? I believe the shop was mentioning a stem that would be a little shorter in that sense when I was in there. Maybe I'll go back and ask him. The only thing keeping from doing that is his egging me to drop the old stuff and buy a modern bike. I'd like a guy who is enthusiastic with my plans.

    From what I'm hearing, it sounds like I can make it fit right, though it may just look like I should be riding a 56 with the stem and seat post looking the way they'll have to. Granted, it's not too extreme.

    All of these mods seem to be related in a way so that I have to buy all the stuff I want at once. Maybe I'm only pretending that's the case...

    Thanks
    "I was racing after him at 55 km/h, and he took a minute off me."
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Al1943 View Post
    You may be able to make the bike fit to your satisfaction but on the other hand it would be very easy to spend too much money making the adjustments when the same money could go a long way toward a bike with the correct frame size.

    Al
    That has been in my head as well. I'm seeing if I can minimize my losses by buying parts I could later adapt to a new frame that I could build up myself, in which case I should buy parts that I like, instead of ones that merely do the job. Maybe that's a rationalization.
    "I was racing after him at 55 km/h, and he took a minute off me."
    ---Boonen on Cancellara with 15 km to go at Flanders 2010

  9. #9
    Downhill Racer PhilThee's Avatar
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    I live in Salem.
    What bike shop did you go to?
    "I didn't see him/her" is a confession, not an excuse.

  10. #10
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    I live in Salem.
    What bike shop did you go to?
    Scott's Cycle. I think the guy's name was Larry. He was really nice and helpful, and has been every time I go in there, but I just felt a little bummed he came off like he was completely converted to riding new bikes with indexed shifting and all. He's older, too, so maybe he's just had his fill of the less reliable days. I'm young, so I'm not jaded with it yet.

    Overall, I think the best LBS in town is Santiam as far as service goes at least. The atmosphere there has always been a lot lighter than the others. What do you think?

    Edit: Maybe it was Steve. I can't remember names. The not bald older guy.
    Last edited by cdotbois; 11-15-07 at 11:20 PM. Reason: Maybe it was Steve. I can't remember names. The not bald older guy.
    "I was racing after him at 55 km/h, and he took a minute off me."
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  11. #11
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leftsneaky View Post
    The brakes I have now are some Dia-Compe cantis that have no vertical adjustment, so I was going to put out for some Tektro Oryx brakes whenever I decided to make the switch.
    I have an '83 Centurion Pro Tour with Dia Compe canti's, I bought some Oryx canti's to replace them, but they just won't work with those bosses. The bosses are too close together by a long shot to work with more modern canti's. Maybe yours are different, but I doubt it-

  12. #12
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    Hm, I'll have to look at that. Any solution?
    "I was racing after him at 55 km/h, and he took a minute off me."
    ---Boonen on Cancellara with 15 km to go at Flanders 2010

  13. #13
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leftsneaky View Post
    Hm, I'll have to look at that. Any solution?
    I'm actually thinking about cutting the bosses completely off, grinding/sanding them smooth (and repainting of course), and then using the fender holes in the seatstay bridge and fork crown to mount centerpull calipers. A bit extreme, but I really don't like the Dia Compe canti's. Long reach sidepulls could be made to work as well, but I actually like the idea of centerpulls for this application since I've got a box full of them and they've got plenty of reach for 27's or 700c's, and plenty of room for fenders-

    Here's a link to an '84 Pro Tour from Sheldon's site. My Pro Tour is an '83, but it has the same Dia Compe canti's: http://sheldonbrown.com/centurion198...0pro-tour.html
    Last edited by well biked; 11-16-07 at 12:13 AM.

  14. #14
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    Just eyeballing pictures of the Oryxs, they don't look like they'd fit at all. The boss and the pads on my Dia-Compes line up a lot more vertically than they do on the Tektros. That means you're right about the bosses on my bike, too. Shucks. 27s are good for now anyway.

  15. #15
    Downhill Racer PhilThee's Avatar
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    "Scotts"

    Well let me tell you this about them.
    I went to all the shops looking for a new bike two years ago.Out of all of them they were the only ones that tried to put me on a 58cm frame.

    I'm 5'10 with a 33inch cycling inseam.There's no way I'd ride a 58.

    All of the other shops tried to put me on either a 54 or a 56.
    I think the best natural fit for me is a 55cm frame.
    Last edited by PhilThee; 11-16-07 at 01:39 AM.
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  16. #16
    WNG
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    Being 5'10" and having a 34" inseam, means your torso is medium to short. So, a 54cm may be a better fit.
    One must remember top tube length. A 56 or 58cm may have you overstretched to the bars.
    I'm the opposite, 5'10" with a 30" inseam! Legs need a 54/56, but my long torso means I'm cramped. I used to ride 57-58cm with a 100mm stem for the longest time.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by WNG View Post
    Being 5'10" and having a 34" inseam, means your torso is medium to short. So, a 54cm may be a better fit.
    One must remember top tube length. A 56 or 58cm may have you overstretched to the bars.
    I'm the opposite, 5'10" with a 30" inseam! Legs need a 54/56, but my long torso means I'm cramped. I used to ride 57-58cm with a 100mm stem for the longest time.
    Good point.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Al1943 View Post
    You may be able to make the bike fit to your satisfaction but on the other hand it would be very easy to spend too much money making the adjustments when the same money could go a long way toward a bike with the correct frame size.
    Lets see. New stem, new wheelset, new brakes, new crankset, questions about how well all of this new stuff is going to work together and questions about how it's all going to look when it's done. At best you'll still have an old bike with a few new parts on it.

    The cost of that much new stuff will go a long way toward the price of a whole new bike. The alternative is a brand new bike that fits right with every single part brand new, every single part designed to work with every other part, and a new bike warranty.

    Doesn't sound like a difficult decision to me.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    Regarding fitting 700c wheels - find somebody who will lend you a pair to try. In less than 5 minutes you'll know if you are going to have to change the brakes.....
    Absolutely, that's the quickest and cheapest way to answer that question.

    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    .....or scrape a pedal on turns, or if the smaller wheels will make your bike look too goofy for words.
    Very funny. Don't confuse the OP with too many choices.

  20. #20
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    leftsneaky, you've got a nice touring bike there. Fit is obviously very important, and whether this bike fits you is up to you, no one else can answer that better than you can. I wouldn't put much stock in the bike shop guy who's told you the "newer tech is better." It's different, yes, but whether it's better is a matter of opinion. It's not like you have a bike that came with junk components for its time period, quite the opposite I believe. Yes, those particular brakes are a PITA, especially if you want to convert to 700c (at least they wouldn't work for me), but you can come up with solutions if you're determined. As for the money that will be involved if you build it up to your liking, I'll just say good bikes are expensive, old or new. You've got an old bike that's worthy of modifications, customizations, etc. if you choose, with the most important factor being that it's a quality frame and fork. But of course it does need to fit you.

    As for 700c wheels making a bike originally equipped with 27's look goofy, particularly on a frame that's not particularly large, put me in the "I don't get it" camp. The radius is 4mm difference, the diameter 8mm. For pedal strike issues, the key number is 4mm, so it's not likely to be a problem at all, never has been for me anyway on a bike I've converted to 700c. I even went to slightly longer cranks-

  21. #21
    Senior Member kenshinvt's Avatar
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    I would like to chime in as another person offering advice from the financial perspective. It's very easy to get an older bike for a good price, love it, and drop a few hundred dollars into it to make a better "fit" or "minor upgrades". I know I've done it more than once now.

    What you've discussed involving a pair of oryx brakes (~$40 not to mention maybe needing new cables / housing), 700c wheels ($100+), a new stem ($25), a new crankset ($30+), etc. is starting to sound like one of those projects.

    What I would suggest, in order to avoid this pitfall, is get on the bike and put some miles into it. If you feel scrunched up on it, get shoulder/neck pain, or are always pushing yourself back, then get a new stem with a longer reach. Even at that, ideally get a used one. Save the upgrade money for buying a bike that fits you just right and has the features you really want.

  22. #22
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    I went out and bought a Technomic stem...

    Then I bought this...

    The Bridgestone is a 56 and feels real nice. It's in somewhat better, maybe just cleaner, condition than my Univega. I'll still mess around with the Univega, though. Both of these bikes are stuck with those Dia-compe cantis with no vertical adjustment. So I still need to find a brake that works, because I want one of the bikes to have 700s. I like 27s, too, but you know, the variety and all that.

  23. #23
    Perineal Pressurized dobber's Avatar
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    As bar height increase, reach decreases. So you might want to consider a slightly longer stem length, if the original reach seemed satisfactory.
    This is Africa, 1943. War spits out its violence overhead and the sandy graveyard swallows it up. Her name is King Nine, B-25, medium bomber, Twelfth Air Force. On a hot, still morning she took off from Tunisia to bomb the southern tip of Italy. An errant piece of flak tore a hole in a wing tank and, like a wounded bird, this is where she landed, not to return on this day, or any other day.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by dobber View Post
    As bar height increase, reach decreases. So you might want to consider a slightly longer stem length, if the original reach seemed satisfactory.
    That makes geometric sense. I was wondering that at the LBS when he said he wanted a shorter stem to be put an inch higher, when he already had said that my reach was pretty spot on.

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